Believing that human trafficking is being “swept under the carpet,” Miss World Guyana finalist Treasure James has decided to create awareness.
James, who is representing Cuyuni/Mazaruni in the pageant, chose to organise a dance that was performed by a flash mob at the Giftland Mall last Sunday together with a group of other young supporters. The idea, she said, is “young people can be involved in a very fun way.”
She told Stabroek News that based on research she had done, human trafficking is a very serious issue in Guyana but no one seems to be paying attention.
She also feels that there is not enough coverage in the media, even though human trafficking is synonymous to “modern day slavery… It is the third most profitable criminal activity, just after arms trafficking and drug trafficking… People are coming out of drugs and going into human trafficking because that’s how profitable it is.”
James, who has been working with the Guyana Women Miners Organisation, said some women are not aware that they can report the cases and accepted it as normal. She noted that through their investigations, they became aware of the location of women and even girls but because they are at private entities, they cannot do much. However, she is organising fundraising activities in order to conduct “rescue missions.”
While some women voluntarily go into prostitution, James said they should not be exploited. For instance, she said women would be promised a high pay and better lives to go to work as prostitutes in the interior but they usually find the total opposite. According to her, the shop owners in the interior would tell them that they are not bringing in enough money and that they should pay for food. The women, who are vulnerable, continue to work under harsh conditions since they cannot afford to leave without making some money to support their families, she added.
In the past, some women have told this newspaper that when they realised what they have gotten themselves into they want to run away. However, they are prevented from doing so because of their obligations to the shop owners who pay huge sums to get there.
One young mother had said that she managed to escape after she started a relationship with a man.
He advised her to pose as a customer and leave with him. She had barely earned a small amount of cash but she could no longer endure the treatment that was meted out to her. After she lived at the man’s house for about three months, he gave her money and sent her back to her family.